David Frum is known as one of the more sensible, policy-oriented conservative writers — he parted ways with the hyper-ideological National Review over non-lockstep comments about the woeful state of the Republican Party. So I came to his posts on cap-and-trade hoping to find some glimmer of … something. Maybe hope that there is a way to connect with reasonable conservatives, common ground from which to begin a dialog.
First Frum wrote a post that got virtually everything about the policy wrong. Ezra Klein tried to set him straight. Frum responded with … more misunderstandings. (Ezra tried again.) In particular I want to focus on two bits:
Yes people can escape the tax by using less electricity. But the tax is still falling on them – they are just feeling its effects in a different form, by reducing their consumption. They are still worse off, just worse off in a different way.
Uh … there’s literally no way to use less electricity without being "worse off"? There’s no such thing as energy efficiency?
(Sorry – I know Ezra will say that the point is to persuade the utilities to rely on windmills instead. But that’s energy fantasy, not energy policy!)
There’s no such thing as renewable energy either!
I was in the midst of grappling with some reasonable way of responding to someone who doesn’t believe in energy efficiency or renewable energy when I came across this comment on the post, from reader sinz54:
There is a big difference here: If an American company dumps waste into the Hudson River, they are hurting mostly AMERICANS. So that’s a national problem for our fellow citizens. Whereas if an American company dumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it is primarily the undeveloped world that will be hurt by it. Unlike America, nearly all of Bangladesh (population 200 million) will be flooded out when the north polar ice cap melts. So we Americans are essentially restricting our economy, and impoverishing our own people, to keep the undeveloped world safe from global warming. Why are we doing them this multi-trillion-dollar favor without them paying us for it? The world cannot control global warming without U.S. cooperation. We should strike a very hard bargain for that cooperation. For example, I would insist that Bangladesh clean up its act and kick *ALL* radical Islamists out of their country before we do anything to keep their country from being flooded. We’ve got the political leverage. Let’s use it!
I am rarely speechless, but … I really don’t know what to say about this stuff. I don’t see how a group of people in this universe are going to make it back to the real world in time to create bipartisan climate policy.